tv Book Discussion on Iran and the United States CSPAN July 26, 2014 3:04pm-4:34pm EDT
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fracking, the taliban in afghanistan and the american west in 1776. all this and much more, 48 hours of nonfiction books and authors on c-span2. booktv, television for serious readers. up next on booktv, seyed hossein mousavian, a former high ranking hebb of iran's national security counsel, suggests ways for the two countries to improve their relationship. this is about 90 minutes. [inaudible conversations]
>> we have a prime seat in the front row. good evening and welcome. i'm warren hog, ipi's -- hoge, and i'm happy to welcome you to this distinguished author series event featuring seyed hossein mousavian, the author of "iran and the united states: an insider's view on the failed past and the road to peace." as you can see from his biography, hossein is, indeed, a verified insider when it comes to such critical things as the government of the islamic republic of iran, iran's disputed nuclear program, its continually conflicted relationship with the united states and his own close, personal association over the years with the two principals on the iranian side in the current nuclear negotiations; president
hassan rouhani and foreign minister sa sad sharif. this makes hossein a perfect guest for ipi tonight, because this is a tantalizing moment in the history of relations between iran and the united states. the subject of his book. the two countries have been sworn enemies for the past 35 be years, but as many people have pointed out, they are also two countries that have much in common, tremendous inannounce and some parallel interests despite their profound differences. the current round of talks between the p5 mrs. 1 -- +1 and iran began in november this which iran diluted some of its most potent uranium fuel in return for several billion
dollars in sanctions relief. the deadline for the agreement is july 20th, a little more than three weeks from now. though there is an allowance for up to six months more if they don't meet the july date. though there are still significant outstanding disagreements over the details of an accord, there has been uninterrupted progress in achieving confidence-building measures since november, and and there is intense interest on both sides in trying to make the date. now, of great significance is that the presidents of both countries both want this deal. and they both know that there are powerful opponents to the agreement in each of their countries who will take advantage of any delay to ratchet up their opposition to it. now, it is not an objective of
the nuclear talks to settle the very real differences between the u.s. and iran. the purpose at the moment is to quarantine the talks around the sole issue of the nuclear program and achieve agreement there. thousand, if that should finish now, if that should happen, one can imagine a situation where and iran cease being implacable enemies and instead become i'ms, intense rivals who may be able to cooperate on issues where competing national interests converge. the common analogies being invoked are the u.s. and china and the u.s. and russia. that's why i used the word "tantalizing" at the outset. this relationship has been marked by deep and recurring distrust on both sides, and the result has been a breakdown in relations between the united states and iran that has lasted
longer than the breakdown between china and the u.s. did. building trust is elusive, particularly if one side doesn't understand what the other side thinks and why it does. that is the value of this book. and i can think of no better person to explain the iranian viewpoint be to a western -- viewpoint to a western audience than hossein mousavian who not only was at the center of so many events that propelled the breakdown, but who did his upside graduate study -- undergraduate studies in this country and for the past five years has been doing research and teaching at princeton. i can highly recommend his book, and it is for sale at the door, and i should tell you it's proved to be so popular that we've had to send out just now to the publisher to get some more in. [laughter]
and hossein will linger a bit at the end to sign copies and chat with you. hossein was here two years ago to discuss his first book, and i'm flighted to have him back -- delighted to have him back at ip airks particularly, as i have said, at this potentially propitious moment for our two countries. hossein, welcome, and the floor is yours. [applause] >> thank you. >> first of all, i would like to extend my grant tuesday to warren -- gratitude to warren and his colleagues at ipi arranging this event. as you know, i came to u.s. mid 1970s and left the u.s. just some months and weeks before the victory of islamic revolution 1979: and i came back again 2009. actually 30 years later. in these three decades, i had an
opportunity to be engaged in major events and occasions related to problems between rapp and the west from hostage-taking conflict 1988-1989 to afghanistan crisis, salman rushdie, fatwa against salman rushdie, nuclear crisis, different administrations, different periods, working in parliament, in national security council, this foreign min -- in foreign ministry. most of the time i spent on problems, relations between iran and the west. i was seven years in germany as ambassador, and it gave me a great opportunity to discuss
with europeans. at that time we had critical dialogues the differences on human rights, on terrorism, on weapons of mass destruction, on peace process, israel, hezbollah, all of these issues with the europeans. officially, unofficially with journalists, scholars, officials. and when i came back 2009 to the u.s., it was completely different because i didn't have official hat, is access to tens or hundreds of american foreign policy experts, think tanks, journalists, to sit with them and to discuss very, very openly, sincerely, frankly the disputes, problems between iran and the u.s. definitely these four, five years gave me great understanding about american
perception, how americans view the iranian policy, iranian foreign policy making system and the disputes between iran and the u.s. in this period it was very clear for me there is a big gap on correct understanding of iran. rarely could find foreign policy expert in the u.s. with correct understanding of iran. of course, no one can blame anyone because, first of all, we have had no relation during 35 years, and there have been no exchange between scholars, journalists and academics, iranians and americans. that's why i felt perhaps in a
unique position knowing the u.s. living, well, nine years in the u.s., over three decades in iranian policy making system to write a book about the relation between iran and the u.s. tehran and washington have experienced one of the most dysfunctional relations, if not the most, one of the most hostile relations, if not the most. and during recent modern history, i really can find rarely such hostile relations between the u.s. and and any other country, even with the soviet union there was official relations, ambassadors.
even with vietnam, such a war between iran -- between the u.s. and vietnam, still now they have official relations. but iranians and americans, they have failed to establish a normal relation, and they have experienced all means of hostilities from economic war, covert war, intelligence war, cyber war, political war. the u.s. definitely tried over three decades to bring regime change in iran and failed. therefore, i tried to explain the roots of hostilities between iran and the u.s. from the u.s. point of view, the west's point of view and the iranian point of view. you will see a lot of literatures, books written about
iran and the u.s., west and iran, but rarely you would find a scholar in the west extensively living in iran and/or have an opportunity to have access to the policy making system in order to be able to write, to explain, to elaborate from the lens of iranian policy and culture. the policy making structure of the country and how iranians view americans and the u.s. i did my best to be balanced in order to explain both point of views, but i think the vantage or my objective was more to explain the iranian point of view because of the vacuum in in
the western literatures. i have tried to focus on relations after revolution. i have explained in one chapter good relation between iran and the u.s. for about a century, 1856-1953. i have discussed 25 years of relation between iran and the after 1953 citizen coup -- coup before revolution, the time the u.s. supported the shah. but the focus is about iran/u.s. after the revolution; during the war, during different presidency ies -- presidencies.
it's interesting to recognize that all iranian administrations during last 35 be years have tried -- 35 years have tried to normalize relations with the u.s., and they all have failed. and it doesn't matter you have had a moderate president or reformist or a conservative president, i have explained in detail me events -- many events that all presidents have tried to bring rapprochement between iran and the u.s., and they have made a lot of unprecedented overtures during 30 years. they all have failed. and there has been the same approach not always from the u.s. administrations, but some of administrations in the u.s. since 1979 also they tried to wring an end to the hostilities between iran and the u.s.
again, americans also have failed. that's why one of the main issues in my week is the root causes -- in my book is the root causes of failures between iran and the u.s. for rapprochement during 30 years. it's about the mistrust, mutual mistrust, about misunderstandings, about misanalysis, about misperceptions, about miscalculations, and i have explained the detail and many events why iranians do not trust and cannot trust the u.s. why iranian supreme leader always is emphasizing that he cannot trust the u.s., the reasons, the mindset of the iranian leader, supreme leader, why and what is the reasons, the evidences, the facts. he cannot trust the u.s. interesting issue is despite the fact the leader does not the
u.s. since his onset of his leadership, he has not prevented different administrations to make approach to u.s. and even during rafsanjani, i have explained during khomeini, ahmadinejad, and at the end he came to be correct because they all failed. but the main objective, actually, for me is to present a road map for iran and the u.s. to end hostilities after over three decades. my main objective was to use my experience, my knowledge, my engagement in many, many events between iran and the u.s., iran and the west understanding both
parties to present a road map, a comprehensive road map how iran and the u.s. can improve the relations. actually, tehran and washington, they have decided -- wrongly, i believe -- to concentrate, to focus on the nuclear issue, and they want to discuss other issues after the nuclear. it is a wrong policy, but this is a fact. therefore, the first step for iran and the u.s., iran and the world powers is to resolve the nuclear in order to open the other possibilities for bilateral relations. one of the major steps between tehran and washington which really could pave the way for a normal relation would be civilian diplomacy.
i mean, if you have hostilities between the two states, i really cannot imagine americans and iranians, nations, the nation have hostilities together against each other. and i do not see a legitimate reason why we have prevented the two nations to have normal relation together. that's why civilian diplomacy is one of the major issues i have explained in detail about academic relations, tourism and many z many other issues -- many, many other issues. the other subject i have introduced is about the end state on differences. we have had many, many piecemeal approaches during last 35 years. and the reason, one of the
reasons of failure of approachment between iran and u.s. is because during decades iran and the u.s., they have relied on piecemeal approaches. they have never engaged in a comprehensive dialogue, and for the future my understanding is iran-america problem does not limit to nuclear. it is not only about terrorism. it is not only about peace process. we have to engage in a comprehensive dialogue to put all bilateral, regional, international issues on the table the negotiate with. to be able to agree on differences, iran and the u.s.
both want to see the end state on every issue from peace process to terrorism to weapons of mass destruction. i give you just one example. we fail for ten years -- some years i was involved in the negotiations. the reason was iranians, they want to see the end state. of a deal. for iranians the end state was recognition of their rights under npt for peaceful nuclear technology including enenrichment. and e.u. iii during our time or p5+1 never was in a position to accept the full rights of iran under npt including enrichment. that's why iranians never could sign to any deal during ten years of negotiations. for a period the red line for
the u.s. was no enrichment in iran. actually, this was the main reason never iran and the e.u. iii could get together for a deal. but recently the u.s. recognized this is not correct policy. they changed no enrichment to no nuclear bomb. when the u.s. red line moved from no enrichment to no nuclear bomb, then the end state for the u.s. should be, could be no nuclear bomb. that's why they could sign a deal in geneva november 2003, because both parties could see the end state. iranians, they were assured that at the end their rights under npt including enrichment would be recognized, respected.
americans or the world powers, they could see that at the end iran would agree to different measures, transparency measures, no breakout capability measures assuring the international community that iran would not seek in the future nuke bomb. nuclear bomb. this is exactly the case about every other disputed issues. if they can see the end state from the beginning, then they can enter for a comprehensive deal on every issue. the other issue which i have discussed in the book is the wrong strategy both from washington and tehran to focus on differences for three decades and to forget to discuss, to cooperate on commonalities. warren mentioned a statement from henry kissinger that iran
and the u.s. have huge common interests. it is true. you can see today the situation this iraq. iran and the -- in iraq. iran and the u.s., they both face the rise of one of the most dangerous version of terrorism during the history of mankind. it is a threat to iran and the u.s. they are worried about that the crisis from syria and iraq spilling over to the whole region. they both break out of sectarian war through the whole region. they both want safe passage of oil and energy from the region. they both don't want to see the position, possession of terrorist on the oil resources
of the region which can be a threat to international oil market. and stability in iraq, integrity of iraq, even integrity of syria preventing the collapse of iraq as a state and as a nation is a common interest between iran and the u.s. and practically, tehran and washington for a decade they have supported the same government in iraq and even in afghanistan. tehran and washington, they have supported karzai as part of all hostilities and differences. they have southerned maliki -- supported maliki despite all robs and hostilities. -- problem toes and hostilities. this is one of the main robs, and -- main problems, and in order to build the future, we need tehran and washington to begin to negotiate, to talk, to
cooperate on the issues of common interests. from truck trafficking to organized crimes to stability in afghanistan, iraq, syria to security of energy, security in theers gulf and many other -- persian gulf and many other issues which are really vital to the national interests of the u.s. and iran both. i'm not going to take too much of your time to explain every detail of the book, but i believe there is a chance, there is a serious chance. when i'm looking to the current situation of the middle east, i see iraq and syria are on the brink of collapse as a nation, as a state.
libya is not far from being a failed state. everyone knows the internal crisis in egypt, in yemen. no one knows we are going in egypt and yemen. taliban is coming back in afghanistan. the pakistani crisis seems to be ungovernable. many scholars, they are really worried about the future of pakistan. whether we like it or not, i mean, whether the u.s. like it or not, iran is one of the most stable countries in the region. despite of 30 be years of pressure -- 30 years of pressure, sanctions, war, ultimately iran today is one of the most stable countries. and then i look at the region, i see iran and turkey, the most stable countries.
and the others either they have unstability like iraq and syria or afghanistan, or they are very vulnerable to the crisis. therefore, this is additional responsibility for tehran and washington to cooperate. to end my statement, i do not believe the crisis in the region would be resolved only by cooperation between iran and the u.s. we need to engage the other regional ours like saudi arabia -- powers like saudi arabia, like turkey. we need a regional cooperation system which i have discussed in detail in my book in persian gulf and in the region. we sought a regional cooperation system, we sought close cooperation between iran, saudi arabia, turkey, the regional ours, even bilateral cooperation between iran and the u.s. would not be with able to manage the crisis in the middle east.
i would prefer, warren, to stop here and then to go to their questions. [applause] >> thank you. i'm going to ask hossein a couple of questions of my own, and then we'll go to the floor. i'm sure you have questions and comments. hossein, what you just said, you mentioned saudi arabia. and the need to include them. i wanted to ask you about something that's current right now. as we know, zarif, the foreign minister of iran, at one point proposed going out to the gulf states to try to present the iranian case which sometimes is not popular in the gulf states. and i think he wanted to go to riyadh, and there was no invitation forthcoming. i think that has changed now. one hears that maybe there's a chance there will be some sort of rapprochement between saudi arabia and iran. can you report to us where that stands? was because the saudis' opposition to iran, the
shorthand view of the middle east has been basically a struggle between saudi arabia and the sunnis on one hand and iran and the shia on the other hand. it would be remarkable if somehow there was some diminution of that tension. how does that stand now? >> i really don't know whether we have any change, because still there is no official invitation for foreign minister zarif to victory idea. >> i just interrupt your answer one second? i was going to say also in the book hossein tells a fascinating story of when rafsanjani chose him to go to saudi arabia, and i think you met the king at that point. >> yeah, king abdullah at that time was crown prince. >> okay. >> and it was after eight years of war between iran and iraq which saudi arabia supported saddam hussein. and then we with had massacres
of pilgrims, about 200, 900 iranians -- 300 iranians, they were massacred. the situation was exactly like today. the hostility was extremely high. i went to riyadh as official representative of rafsanjani. i met crown prince abdullah. even at that time he was the main decision maker. three, four hours meeting in his home privately from 11:00 at night til 4, 5:00 in the morning. and we were able to agree on a comprehensive package for bilateral relations. on economic relation, political relation, security issues and security concerns we had, they had. that's why the relation from 1996 to 2005, at the end of rafsanjani's period and the
whole party of khatami, we had the best relation between iran and saudi arabia, even better than the relation during the shah. this is really the reason, i believe, today iran/saudi arabia crisis can be managed easily. i understand saudis, they are very much concerned about the rise of influence of iran in the region. when they look at the afghanistan, iraq, lebanon, is syria, everywhere they see iran has upper hand. that's why they have mobilized their forces. but i believe they are investing on wrong track which they would be the first victim. i really believe sincerely, frankly iran would not be vulnerable to the wave of terrorism in the region, but saudis, themed be. they would be. gcc countries, they would be. they are investing on wrong track. and the notion of bringing a
balance between iran and saudi arabia in order to sit and negotiate is really, i really don't understand because i feel the saudis, they want to have a kind of balance between the role and influence of saudi arabia and iran in the region then to go to negotiate. no one knows how long it takes. after 30 years of all types of pressures and sanctions, war, even use of chemical weapon withs -- now iran is the most powerful, if not the most stable countries. how long we have to fight in the region in order to brick balance, i think the notion is wrong. is better for iran and saudi arabia, because i believe these terrorists, the salafists are the same threat to iran, u.s., europe and even saudi arabia. i mean, they are against what
they say imperialism in brackets, the u.s. zionism in brackets, israel and shia iran and the kingdoms in all the region. and they, i believe they are all in one boat, and they these to sit together to discuss very openly, sincerely, frankly all concerns. and they are two big powers. i mean, in so many ways saudi arabia lays a crucial role. iran is extremely powerful. and even i remember when i was talking to crown prince abdullah, now is the king, he told me privately very frankly that the three pillars of the region are saudi arabia, iran and iraq.
and that time he told me we have saddam, neither you, nor us, we cannot cooperate with saddam, but tehran and riyadh, they can cooperate. today saddam is gone, and there is no reason three pillars of the region should not and could not sit together and to create a regional cooperation system in persian gulf between iran, iraq and the gcc. >> hossein, you said here tonight and you say in the book that three different presidencies in iran including, surprisingly to me, the presidency of ahmadinejad made efforts for rapprochement with the west. those efforts failed, as you also said. why do you think this one height work? might work? >> because as i said, of course in my understanding i have also explained in my book i believe
ahmadinejad made the most effort even more than rath san january and khatami to reach the u.s. he was the first president who wrote official letter to the u.s. president bush and obama. he was the first president who congratulated an elected u.s. president, president obama in 2009. and the high level talks began during the -- the highest level talks began during ahmadinejad's era when bill burns and jalili, the then-secretary of national security council, they met in geneva in 2009. and even the direct confidential, secret talks between iran and the u.s. began in 2012, 2011, 2012 in oman. it was again during president
ahmadinejad. the reason i said, warren, that tehran and washington they have failed in last three decades is piecemeal approach. they have never had a comprehensive strategy for relations. they need to engage comprehensive dialogue on all issues. just focusing for ten years on nuclear, this is the story actually between iran and the u.s. it's a decade we are fighting on nuclear. really iran and the u.s. problems are limited to the nuclear? this is the problem. >> uh-huh. but, in fact, the negotiation we're looking at right now is, whether you like it or not, piecemeal. it's focused just on the nuclear -- and quite consciously they have said we will not deal with anything else. we'll try to settle this one and then build on that for the
future. and i think from talking to you and from reading the book you think that has a chance, don't you? >> see, the realities in the region, i think, would bring a change in the mindset of both tehran and washington. iraq is one reality today which they really both feel a major threat to the national security of the u.s., iran, saudi arabia, the region, europe. that's why i believe there is a chance because, unfortunately, the recent crisis in the region is educating tehran and washington to engage as soon as possible in grand bargain. >> let me just -- excuse me, i just exhausted some questions i had there.
if this negotiation -- well, let me just say my own thinking is the reason in this particular one might have a better chance is you have an elected leader of iran, hassan rouhani, who was elected on a program in an election that was certified as fair and open by international authorities. you had a president who ran on a program of rapprochement. you have a foreign minister who has rather extraordinary credibility in this country from his service here. he's lived here even longer than you have, and also when he was the ambassador here, he was a very effective ambassador. so i'm thinking these two guys, and they have the support of the supreme leader for doing that they're doing -- what they're doing. so i wanted to ask you, suppose it doesn't work. suppose there is a failure for
whatever reason, and as i said at the outset, there are opponents both on the iranian side, very strong opponents, very strong opponents on the u.s. side; the u.s. congress, for one, israel, and web that -- we can talk about that in a second for another. and what would happen to rouhani and zarif in iran if this particular negotiation now broke down? how important is it that this particular one succeed? >> i fully agree today we have a golden opportunity because here the combination of obama, kerry, chuck hagel is something to my understanding we have never had after revolution 1979 in the u.s. on the iranian side, we have had
the same situation, warren, during khatami period was not much different than rouhani period. >> yep. >> however, the combination of kerry, obama, chuck hagel in washington and rouhani, zarif and sal hi as the head of atom toic energy organization -- atomic energy organization, educated, graduated from mit, and the security of national security council -- [inaudible] also is very had rate. the combination of these figures in tehran also is a great opportunity for grand bargain, grand bargain and comprehensive deal. but when you ask me what happens if fail, i believe this would be the same happen to rafsanjani, ahmadinejad and khatami, because they all tried, and they all failed.
>> since we're talking a little bit about the supreme leader here and when i asked what would happen to them i think i'm sort of saying what would the supreme leader say to them or do to them if they failed, i wanted to ask you just strictly how does the iranian government work? you have a president, you have a congress, you have a national security council. i think you served on it. and yet on top of all that particularly when it comes to foreign policy, you had the supreme leader. how does it work? how do you, for instance, someone like you communicate with the supreme leader? how does he communicate with you? >> the structure in tehran is very similar to washington. you have congress, we have parliament. supreme leader authority in our constitution is similar to president obama's authority in
your constitution. president obama may be able to veto the congress decisions or legislations, but iranian supreme leader by constitution cannot veto legislations by parliament. we have national security council which is the most prominent institution to decide on major issues related to politics and security like nuclear, like iraq, like afghanistan. you have nsc here, the same. but the misunderstanding about the role of iranian supreme leader here is big. the conventional understanding is that he is deciding, nobody else is deciding, there is a dictatorship, and he vetoes everything, and nobody has no authority. this is completely wrong perception here.
it is true that he's the ultimate decision maker on foreign policy like president obama is ultimate decision maker. on foreign policy. but during his leadership, he has agreed with over 90% of the decisions made by nsc, reigning national security council. although in many cases he was not in agreement with the conclusion of iranian nsc, just i give you one example on the nuclear. nuclear policy during president khatami compared with nuclear policy during president ahmadinejad, you would see huge difference. but the leader is the same.
i mean, because the policies during khatami was decided in national security council and the leader agreed each though i know with some of the policies on the nuclear during our time, he doesn't like it. he didn't like it, he didn't believe it, but he did not veto the decision of majority. >> he has the power to veto -- >> he has the power to the veto. >> how does he use that power? >> very, very, very rarely. perhaps 1 or 2, 3% during over two with decades of his leadership. -- two decades of his leadership. i have explained one of the examples he vetoed, it was the time iranian diplomats, they were assassinated in afghanistan. and although it was during khatami, everybody was extremely angry in iran, and majority of
members of national security could be ill, they believed that iran -- council, they believed that iran should go inside afghanistan after taliban like what president bush did, invaded afghanistan and believed he should go after taliban inside afghanistan. but the supreme leader decided not for iran to intervene. but this is very, very rare. >> hossein, when you talk to americans about iran and the united states, obviously one of the great issues is israel. while the rhetoric has changed dramatically out of tehran since rouhani replaced ahmadinejad and it seems to me rouhani has extended himself to say we are not holocaust deniers, we do not want to wipe israel off the face of the map, i still wanted to
ask you for those that would be curious what would -- assume the u.s. and iran do reach a kind of rapprochement now. is it possible to imagine iran any one day recognizing the state of israel? if that is not possible, is it possible to imagine iran not protesting the existence of the state of israel? is there a possible compromise there? >> first of all, warren, tell me what is the change in israeli position during ahmadinejad and rouhani. the israeli position has remained the same. therefore, it doesn't matter if someone in iran denies holocaust or condemned holocaust. it is just some instrument to
use and play against iran in the international public opinion, to play with the image of iran. otherwise just tell me any changes in netanyahu's position when zarif related jews for the new year. they powerfully condemned holocaust. israeli position is the same. therefore, i don't believe a change in iranian position would matter. this is the fact, i mean. you can compare. one. second, the problem with the recognition of israel, i really don't know -- i'm very surprised in the u.s. why everybody is talking about iran not recognizing israel. 90% of husband limb countries, they -- muslim countries, they do not recognize israel.
a large majority of u.s. allies do not recognize israel like saudi arabia. why are you talking about iran? if you can convince the u.s. allies to recognize israel, then come to iran to -- [laughter] but for 40, 50 years you have not been able to convince your allies to recognize israel, and you blame iran? i really don't know. we have 57 countries, over 50 muslim countries. they to not recognize israel. this is not issue with iran. but, warren, can you find one evidence during president khatami, any high level officials have stated wiping israel off the map? you would not find during president khatami. you would find a lot of statement during president rafsanjani, very high level they
said we would not disturb peace process. it was a green line, signal that if there is a deal, iran would be prepared not to disturb peace process. but was there any changes in u.s. position when during rafsanjani many statements were made that we would not disturb peace process or -- there was no statement during khatami wiping israel off the map. the u.s. position, israeli position was the same. therefore, we have to think a little bit about this side, because during last 10, 15 years netanyahu every day waking up asking for military strike against iran. and nobody here criticized netanyahu. why you are asking, putting pressure on the u.s. to attack iran. but if iran denies holocaust like earth quake in the u.s., you know -- earthquake in the u.s., you know, if netanyahu would ten times a day repeat
taking iran, nobody cares. here we need a little bit of change. >> sure. i was just saying it is the reality, though, of the situation. it was not great public relations for ahmadinejad to speak that way at the time, and it just made it more difficult. and i'm talking about -- >> actually, warren, that time even when he made the statement against holocaust, i likely rejected his statement. >> i know you did. hossein, i'm talking about the president who has you jailed after also -- [laughter] and let me just ask you, then i want to go to the room. in the introduction i imagined a situation that if the nuclear deal works, you have a deal, that it could produce a situation where you, in my own terminology from an american point of view, you turn iran from being be an enemy into being a rifle. rival. we have differences, we will pursue those differences. we can pursue them aggressively
and with great competitiveness, and the analogy i set people aside is like the u.s. and china or the u.s. and russia or even the u.s. in the old days and the soviet union. is that a fair way of looking at what might become the truth about iran in the u.s.? >> i look at this case a little bit different, warren, because rivalry between iran and the u.s. in the region perhaps during last 30, 40 years, yes. but to my understanding, the u.s. is going to leave the region within five years, ten years they are going to leave persian gulf. they are not going to have any more military strike. they don't want to have any invasion of any other country in
the middle east whether this is iran or syria or egypt, they don't care. >> uh-huh. >> and they have lost trillions of dollars because of two wars in iraq and afghanistan. they, and the oil issue they, it seems they are going to be independent within some years. and they, at least they would not be that much dependent to the oil from the region. therefore, if the u.s. strategy in the region is going to be changed, engagement, involvement, military bases in spending hundreds of billions of dollars to keep its military presence, i think it's changing. if it's going to to be changed, then the rivalry would not be between iran and the u.s., but the rivalry between rapp and saudi arabia would -- iran and saudi arabia would continue. and i look at the issue more
complication is within the region. we need to find a solution within the region, then discuss about the u.s. or russia. the fact is the two major powers, iran and saudi arabia, they're strategically important location of persian gulf 40% of the oil is coming from persian gulf. on the occasion of departure of the u.s., the vacuum which we would face very soon, look at the vacuum after departure of the u.s. from iraq. look at the vacuum after departure of the u.s. from afghanistan. and the crisis and the danger of spilling over to the whole region, this is the reason my
>> you expect me to ask a question that is not easy for you. >> as always. >> we do differ on what you're making on the relationship between the u.s. and iran. after all it was war in iraq that gave iran -- american war in iraq that gave iraq, iran. held by self people in the he john and if you want to speak about the grand bargain, could you kindly tell me what would the element be -- how willing is iran to give up its amibitions in iraq and syria. this is the number one problem that iranians have with the
arabs in general, saudis in particular, that iraq and syria are arab lands, and it is your man, maliki, in iraq, that has failed iraq and we are where we are and was an intervention in sirarch including hezbollah, going across borders, becoming one over the mill lits, that -- militias, that gave ride, unfortunately to the terrorists, the sunni terrorists, like isis or isil. what is going to be done now to have the grand bargain work. i'm interested in details and please don't tell me about the secular regional thing because it's rejected already. >> i think i would just answer that question one. the good journalist she is always gets three or four questions into one. we'll get to the two of you afterwards. would you just --
>> when you talk about iranian amibition and you use example on iranian influence in iraq, you should never forget it was an arab country. iraq invaded iran. for eight years. it was all arab regional countries supported the a aggression. one million iranians were killed. $600 billion damages to iran. saddam used chemical weapons, about ten thousand iranians were either killed or injured. saudi arabia, arabs, the u.s., europe, supported the use of chemical weapons. you forget this part of the history, and you're talking about today's influence of iraq. definitely iranian influence is defensive in iraq. because you forget the part of
the history when you invaded iran. if iraq, arab, have not invaded iran after the revolution, iranian strategy in the region would have been completely different. you cut a part of the history. you should not. no one in iran would forget what iraq and the support, hundred billions was paid to saddam by gcc to support his invasion. what was the target of the invasion? disintegration of iran. you remember, saddam announced it part of iraq, and you, gcc, all support it. you forget that the notion of regime change, invasion of iran, hundreds of thousands -- if iran today have influence in the region, you should know this is
really defensive. [inaudible] >> grand bargain, first of all, is about cooperation on commonalities. definitely iran and the u.s. have differences and they have commonality. the vacuum lasts 35 years, is about cooperation, negotiation, on commonality. this is one major part of grand bargain first. second, we have four major disputes between iran and the west, including iran and the u.s. weapons of mass destruction. nuclear is just part of it. terrorism. human rights. and peace process for israelis.
in parallel of cooperating on commonality, in grandbargain, they would need to negotiate to find principles to settle their differences on these four major issues. the third is about -- i reiterate my belief that iran, u.s., saudi ai arabia, if they agree they can establish a regional cooperation system and this is a must for the region. because to my understanding, the u.s. is not going to pay forever for the region. and to my understanding, some countries would not be able to
employ the u.s. forever. for their security. we need a regional system for all security. and this can be part of grand bargain because in last 30 years i believe the u.s. was opposing the regional cooperation system. now the u.s. does not oppose a regional cooperation system in persian gulf. and then is about the crisis. we have crisis in afghanistan, in iraq, crisis in syria. syria, of course, the equation would be different. we would need to have russia. we would need to have regional powers like saudi arabia, turkey, iran, and big powers like the u.s., russia, to manage syrian crisis, but iran should be a part of the solution.
otherwise, isolating iran on syria, you would never be able to get solution into the syrian crisis. that is why geneva 1 failed, and geneva 2 failed, and enif you are going to have geneva 3 without iran, it would fail. >> we'll take two now. >> hi. my name is manik. i'm a journalist. i have a question in regard to iraq. does it present opportunities for cooperation between the u.s. and iran, although both sides have officially denied that? and secondly, how do you see the future of iraq? would you agree that a unified slugs is -- solution is a good solution or a division of iraq? thank you. >> and then margaret. >> your question was about opportunity on iraq. >> iraq. >> okay.
>> hi, margaret williams ipi. two very quick questions. first regarding turkey. you mentioned turkey a couple times in your speech. i'm wondering if you could elaborate on how you think iran sees sees the relationship with turkey going forward, turkly iraq and what is going on in mosul and elsewhere, and could you talk about yemen, and how potential for dialogue of some sort between iran and saudis vis-a-vis yemen, could possibly materialize. >> take those two? >> yemen is the most easiest. for iran and saudi arabia to cooperate, compared to iraq and syria. this is easy. iran and turkey, they have had cordial relation for 400 years.
and there is really no deep-rooted hostility between iran and turkey. they have -- had for 30 years, 40 years -- 35 years after the revolution, look at the economic relation between iran and turkey. now is in top three. and they are two both big nations in the region. we have egypt, turkey, iran, with three big civilization and history. you have the biggest nation. in the region. none of them can be neglected for any kind of regional arrangement. neither iran nor turkey nor egypt. that's why i always believe iran,/turkey relation is crucial for stability in the region and also for paving relation with
europe and the west, turkey can play a good role. for a short period in syria there were dispute between iran and turkey. fortunately iran and ankara immediately recognized this is not in their long-term interest and now they're cooling down and trying not to disturb the bilateral relation because of syrian issue. iraq definitely is an opportunity. i mean, whether they officially -- iranians or americans officially state or not, we cannot deny that the current terrorism is a threat to iran and the u.s. we cannot deny that iran and the u.s. both are avoiding further u.s. intervention in the region. i mean, before it was different. but now they have a common
understanding, washington and tehran. they both want to avoid u.s. military intervention in the region. they're both very worried about the possession of oil sources in the region by terrorists. this is a matter of concern for the u.s., a matter of concern for iran, because the safe passage of oil is extremely important for both tehran and washington. from the early days of syrian crisis, iran was warning to the national community that the crisis would spill over to the region. no one unfortunately paid attention. tehran was very clear that iraq would be the first victim. and to my understanding, after iraq, we would into jordan in problem, then iran, and then saudi arabia. they are the next to come.
if there is not immediate solution to prevent the current crisis in syria and in iraq, they are interrelated, actually. we cannot discuss syria without iraq and iraq without syria. they're very, very related together. as i said, tehran and washington, they have supported the same government in iraq, therefore they want to prevent disruption of the post saddam hussein system. it is clear this would be a failure for tehran and washington both. security in war really is a matter of mutual concern for tehran and washington. integrity of those some iranians, including some of my friends, in tehran, they believe washington is after disintegration of iraq. i personally don't believe this is the case.
i believe washington is seeking integrate of iraq. they don't want disintegration because if there there is in syria or iraq, then the region would be -- fail disintegration in other countries. is very clear. >> okay. jeff and then kathleen and then we'll have three in a row. >> first, i have noticed you have not offered a word of gratitude to president bush for having taken care of iraq, saddam hussein for iran, and maybe he deserves a bit of warm memory in some quarters. i do wonder whether you may exaggerate a bit the intentions of the u.s. to pull out of out f the region, which i haven't seen signals of a wholesale flight yet. let focus on the region itself.
it must be a blow to iranian sense of importance that, for all of the convulsions of applan -- arab spring and the rise of would-be democratic movements nobody looks to the islamic republic of iran as a constitutional model for anybody in the arab world, which raises the question, what are iranian purposes in the broader region? what kind of influence does it really exert on any of the other countries other than through the couple of proxies, hezbollah and assad, to whom it has provided some very tangible, deliverable, and are those relationships matter of conviction, either shiite loyalty, or simply expedient you cut the right deal with washington and you can cut
could you say a little bit more about the possibility of cooperation or detente or whatever between iran and saudi arabia? because one of the countries you referred to that is facing possible problems or current problems is pakistan, and then it is the rivalry playing out between these two countries through proxies and particularly militias affecting the stability of the country. so i'd like to hear more as to
where iran and saudi arabia may go towards cooperation and how. >> all right. two questions. >> iran and saudi, definitely they have a lot of contentions in the region. no doubt. but whether we can find solution or not, i believe we can find solution. because i personally have been involved for a decade of good relation between iran and saudi arabia. i personally consider king abdullah a moderate. and i really cannot imagine the moderate part of saudi arabia. although, the root causes of finances and logistical support are coming from not only saudi
arabia but i cannot imagine king abdullah himself likes to see such a hostility between iran and the u.s. -- between iran and saudi arabia, and i maintain iran should use the opportunity, the time king abdullah is alive, to create a new reproachment between iran and the u.s. because i really don't know what's going to happen after this power -- [inaudible] >> yeah, iran and saudi arabia -- after this transition of power problem we have in saudi arabia. no one knows what is going to happen after king abdullah. the rule of revolutionary guard
in 1988-1989, when president bush invited iran for good will for iran to facilitate the release of western hostages, american, european hostages, although i have explained in my book, a friend in foreign ministry, we were mandated by the president and foreign minister to manage these and we did it, but very frankly, we couldn't make the deal without the revolutionary guard. it was the revolutionary guard who facilitated the release of hostages. on 2001, war on terror, when, again, the u.s. invited iran to cooperate, it was impossible without revolutionary guard cooperation to be bring iran and the u.s. to cooperate, to fight
taliban in afghanistan. it was revolutionary guard. therefore, it depends how you deal with them. if you are nice they would be constructive. then they would -- they have extensive power and organization. they are extremely powerful and they know how to react. iranian regional objectives, i have explained in my book one story. it was every day of my mission to germany when i met foreign minister genshev, and the first issue he raised with me was possibility of a regional cooperation system in persian gulf, which you don't like it. and she doesn't like it.
i told genshev that iran would be positive. he was really shocked. then he asked me to manage his trip to tehran to see president -- and gave him cart blanc to go for a regional system in persian gulf. it was in 1990. it was not in 2014. it was right after war. and genshen was almost shocked. he came to washington and washington declined. before you can see from the beginning, iranians have been seeking for a type of regional cooperation, and -- was the foreign minister in 1991, 1992,
1995. he paid visit to all gcc countries. that time i was in foreign ministry, and he raised iranian willingness to establish such a cooperation with the neighbors but gcc was not in position to agree because of u.s. opposition. so i really don't believe iran is going to have a dominant role in the region what is the conventional understanding here. iran is preferring more regional cooperation with the neighbors, even including saudi arabia. jeff, when i said about the u.s. departure from the region, i never mean it's immediate. gradually within ten year, 15 years to my understanding the u.s. is going to have a
gradually decreasing its role investment in the region, which would take five, ten, 15 years. it's not going to happen in one year. >> i've got time for three more questions. one from a colleague in the front, and the woman in the blue dress. and adam. >> first of all, thanks a lot for your speech, and i truly look forward to reading your book. my question brings us back to iran and to inside the country. here in the u.s. and the west germ anyway, always very fuzzy when people, reports say that president rouhani will have a hard time convincing the hardliners, the big umbrella, the hardliners, cue tell us your assessment of the hardliner challenge to president rouhani and do you think -- how far can he go before the tightrope he is seemingly walking on will snap.
>> to just make it very simple for you, what is the rule of hardliners here in washington? how obama -- the problems of president obama in congress. this is exactly the same for dr. rouhani in tehran. i mean, radicals, hardliners in tehran and washington, exactly the mirror image. >> hello. thank you for your presentation. i'm an international peace and security consultant. and i have a question vis-a-vis your position that the u.s. is gradually, gradually disassociating or disengaging in the middle east, and i want to bring you forward two years from now, where we have an incoming -- it's a hypothetical -- incoming republican president in
washington, republicans hold the majority in the two houses, and i want you to put your book and its recommendations two years from now in the future and i want you to pay particular attention in your response to the issue of u.s. commitments to israel. thank you. >> no, i have no doubt about u.s. commitment to israel. and it is israel who have declineed president obama's attempt for peace process, not iran. you know better than me how much the u.s. president, john kerry, invested on a two-state solution, and who declined, who opposed the u.s. president and the u.s. state secretary? it was netanyahu. despite all this fact, i know the u.s. commitment to the security of israel, i have no doubt, but the issue is whether
israelis are making right policies in the region are they are isolating themselves and blaming the others. this is my issue. whether we would have republican president or not, we may have, even -- this is to my understanding -- maybe i'm wrong -- i really -- for me is difficult to imagine a republican president would repeat the mistake in iraq and afghanistan. i think america has got a good lesson. >> and then final question, from a former colleague from "the new york times." >> thank you. wonderful presentation. >> introduce yours injury i'm adam -- former times person and independent. much of the discussion has been flamed geopolitical terms but the question that occurred to me, there's a school of thought espoused in part by people
warren will know very well, which sees the unstable in the region, especially in syria, as a failure of political systems to respond to environmental issues, and so i wondered if you might be able to comment a little bit from that perspective, and also if you accept that view -- >> what do you mean by that? >> well, the drought in syria and how that then led to instability and failure of the regime to respond in a meaningful way. tom friedman did a documentary around this. so i wonder if you could respond a little bit to that and also if you do accept that view, do you see opportunity for cooperation between the west and iran in environmental areas? >> on syria, i -- myself, i believe president assad made a mistake at the beginning of the
crisis, treating the opposition. we could have a better treatment preventing the crisis. one. second, today the reality is that there's assad government is part of integrity of state and nation of syria. believe it or not, if assad today is collapse, who is going to govern syria? who has a better alternative? what is alternative? who is alternative? do we have a united position? do we have a united war in syria? the fact is that the army and the security establishments of syria still are powerful,
relatively united. compare syria with iraq. what this problem today with iraq? the u.s. made a big mistake to dissolve iraqi security system and army at the beginning. for ten years the u.s. invested billions of dollars to educate or to train or to organize a new army and security system in iraq. and you see that the army is weak today to confront, 1,002,000, insurgents. -- 1,000, 2,000 insurgents. the failure of the u.s. but iranians were wise enough to support assad and his government to prevent the collapse of army and security establishment of syria, because no one knows what is going to happen after. in environmental issues, one, i
think on weapons of mass destruction in the middle east, for last 34 years, the only realistic major success has been dismantling of syrian chemical weapons. we don't have anything else. and this is only, and only because of try lateral -- trilateral cooperation between washington and moscow. if there is a real cooperation, what can be the result? no one else could con vince assad to give us his chemical weapons because they against israeli chemical weapons. the refugees -- today really there is a big room between the regional countries, iran, and the u.s., european, for humanitarian assistance.
second, they need to agree on some principle in advance. we cannot rely on syrians. they are helpless. they cannot manage. you don't have any real united opposition to negotiate with. some principles like integrity of syria, like the rule of majority, like free elections, some principles, i think, iran regional powers and the world powers can agree upon, and then after agreeing on the principles, then definitely we would need a transitional period, we would need first the refugees to come back. we need hundreds of billions of dollars of investment for humanitarian affairs.
recently the refugees in syria, and then go to a free election supervised by united nation. to make sure that this is a free election. and then whomever the syrians elect, everyone should respect. >> adam, thank you for the question because it unables to us bring the argument back to the united nations at the very end. as i told you before, i'm going to keep him here to chat with those who weren't able to get your questions asked. to buy books and i see the publisher in the back. did you find more books? excellent. i urge you to read it. it's an excellent book and i want to think hossain for being such a wonderful guest and for all of you for asking such good questions. [applause]
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